The USS Badger was a Wickes-class destroyer built in Camden, NJ. The USS Badger was commissioned in August 1918 to support the World War I effort. It is named after Commodore Oscar C. Badger, who rose from the rank of midshipman in 1841 to Commander of the Boston Navy Yard upon retirement in 1885. With distinguished service during the Mexican American War and during the American Civil War, it was deemed fitting that a US naval vessel should be named after this officer who served with honor throughout such conflicts.
With a displacement of 1,211 tons, the USS Badger began her career in the Mediterranean, sailing those waters until August 1919. She was then transferred to the Pacific Fleet where she served at naval bases up and down the western seaboard until being decommissioned in 1922. During her first period of commission, the Navy adopted an alphanumeric hull identification system, changing the name of the Badger from No. 126 to DD-126.
The USS Badger was recommissioned in January 1930, where she was deployed in the Battle Force and the Scouting Force, operating in the Pacific. In April 1933, the ship redeployed to the Atlantic, serving as a reserve training vessel and participating in coastal cruises. Between 1938 and 1939, the ship went farther afield as a member of Special Squadron 4 that was based out of a French naval base. Back in the US by the end of 1939, the USS Badger joined Destroyer Division 53 while conducting Midshipmen Coastal Cruises for training purposes.
Action in World War II
With the resumption of war operations following the Pearl Harbor attack, the USS Badger was deployed as a convoy escort in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, a role in which she served between 1941 and 1944. While the ship guarded two convoys to North Africa through Atlantic waters, she also served as part of anti-submarine hunter kill groups, earning a battle star in the process for naval engagement with the enemy.
The Badger was also damaged greatly during as it sailed as part of an escort convoy across the Atlantic in January, 1942. Her damage was so serious that the destroyer had to leave the convoy and seek repairs, which lasted from the end of January into the first week in February.
In October 1944, the USS Badger passed through the Panama Canal to its new duty station in the Canal Zone base in Balboa where she served as an anti-submarine force training ship. Later, the USS Badger was ordered to Port Everglades, FL to serve in the Anti-Submarine Development Detachment, conducting more training exercises. Her useful service life coming to a close, the USS Badger made her final voyage to Philadelphia, where the ship was decommissioned on July 20, 1945. She was sold that November after a long, memorable career. The USS Badger DD-126 received one battle star for her World War II service.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.